Monday, November 29, 2010

The Genius

The Genius has gained so much understanding that there is no one alive who is capable of comforting him. He knows there are people who are perfectly serene; some through a deficiency in understanding, others through what is generically called ‘enlightenment’. The genius would accept either of these methods to happiness willingly, were someone able to convey their essences to him in a language that didn‘t sound to him like :

1. a peacock plucking out it‘s own back feathers.
2. an engagement ring in the garbage disposal.
3. a herring being swept up in the claws of a grizzly bear.
4. an overfull zit, rocketing itself onto the surface of a mirror.
Since no one can comfort The Genius, he just stares out the rain specked window in his study. His sits in a comfortable red leather chair, and looks at the wet blue grass, the streaked gray shed, and the absorbent brown fence in his backyard.

It is always raining in the genius’s mind. When he’s standing in his kitchen, talking to his wife--who herself only has one small way that she can connect with him on such a high plain--he sees rain. Sometimes it pours, and her hair and shirt are soaked, and he can clearly see the outline of her plain cotton bra and her unserious bellybutton . Sometimes the rain just tinkles, just a small bout of heavenly whizzing. He can hear it chink against the tile, and it sounds with an echo in the deep set sink.

Once, when the genius was in the throes of desperation and willing to toss experience and reason to the wind, he went to see the world’s most renowned Psychotherapist in a small gray flat in Switzerland. The flat overlooked a gray field, a small pond, and a medium sized wooden shack that probably held lawn equipment.

The Eminent Psychotherapist began the session fully aware that he was, indeed, taking The Genius himself down the road less traveled, and so proceeded with deft attention, erudition and care. By mid-session somehow things had gone upside down, and the Genius found himself lecturing the Eminent Psychotherapist (mouth agape, upturned palms supporting his soft chin), on the fundamentals of String Theory.

The Genius has since abandoned all hope of seeing full remission of the Great Descending Haze in his lifetime.

One thing will occasionally lift the influence of that golden demon/will swat the black-eyed dog with cold newsprint:

A casual human touch. A brush of fingers through his graying hair. A hip-bump on the subway car from a careless stranger, or two hands reaching for the same dropped object at once, colliding.
The touches work best when they are accidental.

An accidental human touch--now and again--will appease the insidious beast of woe, and will allay the dull ache that accompanies The Genius through the flak-starred night of his bleakest desolation.

Sometimes the rain smells sweet.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Bacon Of Eternity, part 3

My context is shifting.

We're spending a lot of time getting the house ready for the birth of our third son. We need to build a room, and buy a bunch of baby stuff; we had planned on stopping at two children--so after Jack was born, we got rid of all of our baby accessories--but Langston made himself irresistible over time, so we gave in. I'm glad. When little Spencer was born, the whole thing had an unreality about it to me. The pregnancy, the delivery: Abby and I were both still puppies ourselves, and had no idea what we were getting into. Things seemed to go faster with Jack. We knew more about what to expect, and were both too caught up in our full time jobs/full time college classes to get too excited. Effectively, we were on auto-pilot.

Now that we're two kids in to our parenting career--and I'm out of school and working in my field--there's more room for anticipation, and that room has been filled. I feel less of a sense of urgency to prove myself these days, and more of a desire to perform. As I get older, I find I am growing comfortable enough with myself to forget myself; That absurd, hovering-over-yourself sense of insecurity that is a staple of the oddball-in-his-early-twenties experience has faded into a quirky confidence that I quite like. This confidence has allowed me to experience other people and experiences more fully, and--I think--is feeding the mounting excitement I feel about the arrival of Langston.

So, my context is shifting, as I was warned it would. I find I have a lot more thoughts about the landscaping of my yard these days. I spend a lot more time looking up recipes online than I do surfing blogs and opinion sites. I still read a lot, but most of my fiction reading is stuff I read to the kids--they're developing an interest in Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, and James Blaylock--and the other stuff is mostly pop-science and philosophy, and I suddenly find myself identifying with the middle aged guys who came in to the bookstore I used to work at looking for 'biographies', not of anyone in particular, but just in general: life is a craft, and it's always good to learn about other folks have been successful at your craft.

The urgency of youth is nice, but it can be tiring. There is something to be said for a little bit of plump comfort, so long as it doesn't slide too far into slothfulness. My fingernails are a testament to the unlikelihood of me ever becoming slothful.

I've got a handful of re-runs scheduled to auto-post on the blog until the first of the year. They'll appear every Monday and Thursday, as usual. If I think of anything I need to say to you in the meantime, I'll toss it into the mix.

Until then, I'll be building stuff around the house, looking up recipes, and thinking about how I got to where I am, and about where it is I might be going.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Are You Sure You Just Didn't Get Taught A Wrong View Of God?

This question comes to me from a person who is quizzing me about the origin of my atheism. Their previous question to me was, 'So why are you an atheist?' to which I replied, 'You can explain how we got here and what happens here without evoking a God, and I haven't seen any good evidence to support the claims of any of the revealed religions.'

The reason that I burst out laughing at this person's follow up question is that they had just finished arguing with me that 'evidentialism' was a terrible worldview, and--in essence--all worldviews are faith based.

Yet it is possible that my atheism is the bi-product of having learned 'the wrong view of god'.

Signs and wonders.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

William Saletan Takes A Metaview Of the 'battle of 2010'...

 and discovers--I believe rightly--that the Democratic party won it:
"Politicians have tried and failed for decades to enact universal health care. This time, they succeeded. In 2008, Democrats won the presidency and both houses of Congress, and by the thinnest of margins, they rammed a bill through. They weren't going to get another opportunity for a very long time. It cost them their majority, and it was worth it.

And that's not counting financial regulation, economic stimulus, college lending reform, and all the other bills that became law under Pelosi. So spare me the tears and gloating about her so-called failure. If John Boehner is speaker of the House for the next 20 years, he'll be lucky to match her achievements.

Will Republicans revisit health care? Sure. Will they enact some changes to the program? Yes, and Democrats will help them. Every program needs revisions. Republicans will get other things, too: business tax breaks, education reform, more nuclear power, and a crackdown on earmarks. These are issues on which both parties can agree. Which is why, if you're a Democrat, you deal with them after you've lost your majority—not before."
 So now that we have the skeletal structure for a single-payer health care system in place, the president and his shrunken army can go on to the more moderate goals listed in the Saletan quote above. The possibility that that Democrats can also use some of the moderate, bipartisan capital that they're bound to build up to champion some progressive social issues--which history will invariably look favorably upon us for--and put the lie to the notion that the tea party is strictly a coalition of advocates for fiscal responsibility and individual liberty.

While the Democratic Party experienced a fleeting electoral loss this November, it is nothing compared to the progressive gains it ultimately achieved.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

An Intriguing Expression Of Patriotism...

I took a picture of this sticker in the parking lot of a local grocery store:

 It was stuck on the door to the gas tank of a gigantic S.U.V.

Is it subtle political commentary? Ironic Obliviousness? Or is it one of the most honest and unapologetic acknowledgments of what lies at the root of much of America's foreign policy that you've ever seen?

You decide.

Monday, November 1, 2010

'Hugh Hefner Has Been Good For Us'

Roger Ebert has a piece up over at his blog that I would like to recommend to you. It’s called, ‘Hugh Hefner Has Been Good For Us’; and not only is it well-written,  I believe it's ultimate assertion (that Hugh Hefner has been good for us) it's true, which is an added bonus.


“Hefner and Playboy have been around so long that not everyone remembers what America used to be like. It was sexually repressed and socially restrictive. College students were expelled for having sex out of wedlock. Homosexuality and miscegenation were illegal. Freedom of choice was denied. McCarthyism still cast a pall over the freedom of speech. Many people joined in the fight against that unhealthy society. Hefner was one of them, and a case can can be made that Playboy had a greater influence on our society in its first half-century than any other magazine.
No doubt Playboy objectified women and all the rest of it. But it also celebrated them, and freed their bodies from the stigma of shame. It calmly explained that women were sexual beings, and experienced orgasms, and that photographs of their bodies were not by definition "dirty pictures." Not many of today's feminists (of either gender) would be able to endure America's attitudes about women in the 1950s.”
 Of all the things in my life that I feel guilty about from time to time--my weakness for donuts and Guinness, the difficulty I have sticking to an exercise regime, my periodic inability to think objectively about personal conflicts --my subscription to Playboy  is not among them, largely for reasons that Ebert lists in his piece. The women that are presented in the magazine are more pleasant than they are arousing; they have more in common with the nude sculptures at your local art museum than they do the images and videos you may find at your favorite porn site. And the articles, interviews, stories, cartoons, essays, and trifles that appear in the magazine make it well worth buying in and of themselves.

Overall, Playboy magazine promotes a largely progressive, epicurean worldview and culture that I cannot fault. I didn't know all of the history of Hugh Hefner that Ebert presents in his piece, but it makes me appreciate him and his magazine even more.